14 February 2019, The Tablet

How gay is the Vatican?

How gay is the Vatican?

‘Pope Francis emerges as the hero of Martel’s book’
CNS/Reuters, Philimon Bulawayo


An explosive book will be published next week claiming to expose the double lives of priests and cardinals and the deceit of the Church’s condemnations of homosexuality. A former Master of the Dominicans wonders if this crisis could be experienced as a moment of grace

On 21 February, the opening day of the Vatican summit on sexual abuse, Frédéric Martel’s In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy will be published simultaneously in eight languages and twenty countries. This is an unfortunate coincidence since the issues are distinct though not completely unrelated. As Martel interviewed me for over four hours, I was filled with increasing dismay and astonishment as he told me of the extremely high level of practising gays within the Vatican. Martel is “a Catholic atheist” but his book is not an angry exposé. He does not wish to out anyone. He clearly likes many of the Vatican officials he has met, but he wants to shine a spotlight on the hypocrisy of an organisation which condemns the practise of homosexuality while engaging in it, he asserts, on a massive scale. One of his hypotheses is that the more homophobic the prelate’s declarations, the more likely he is to be gay.

I would love to be able to dismiss Martel’s book as mere gossip. It will anger and sadden vast numbers of Catholics. For many this may be the last straw and they will be off. But it would be a mistake to rubbish this book.

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